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Sheik Gender Discussion

NorthApple

GIVE ME THE APPLE!!
Joined
Jul 15, 2009
Location
UK :D
Fantastic read, Shadsie... and it proves it's more than possible to pull off even without the possible benefit of magic. And to those who point out Shiek's flat-chestedness in the artwork and say how could Zelda have done that so convincingly (excluding magic), I say how do you know she had that much to hide in the first place? The bodice of her dress is very loose and full of folds, so you couldn't possibly be able to tell if she'd have a problem with the disguise or not.... and besides, magic.

But February Eve makes a good point... if Zelda was good enough at magic to change her gender, why didn't she make other drastic changes as well, such as changing her face shape completely (then she didn't have to hide behind her fringe and cowl), change her age/size to appear as a child or an old beggar, or even just change her hair colour to something less suspicious?

Because she didn't do that, it seems to indicate that her disguise isn't a magical one (with the exception of her eyes... but Shiek was intended to have blue eyes originally anyway). Thus, it leads me to conclude that Zelda remained female the entire time. However, while physically Shiek is Zelda, and so must be physically female, I would say that the character of Shiek, the whole idea and concept of that identity, the one Zelda created to hide behind, is male. Therefore I would still refer to "Shiek" as male. :3
 
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ChargewithSword

Zelda Dungeon's Critic
Joined
Jan 13, 2009
Location
I don't want to say.
If you ask me, Shiek is a woman just like her alter ego.

There is the fact that Hyrule is magic rich and whatnot and Zelda might've been able to change her gender through the use of the Triforce of Wisdom, and then there's the Manga that suggests a gender change (but the Manga is only canon in the sense that it fleshes out the personalities of the characters and nothing more), but there is something from the best canon for Shiek (AKA OoT) that says that Shiek is a woman.

The reason I say this is because Shiek sounds nothing like a man. Now, I realize that different people have different voice tones, but Shiek's voice is just not deep enough to sound like a man. Remember when she grunts after throwing a Deku Nut to stun Link and run away or when she jumped into the lake after beating the Water Temple? Did Shiek sound anything like a man? The obvious answer is no.

Coupled with the fact that she said she was in disguise (beware that the video evidence contains a bit of swearing, so don't say I didn't warn you) it says to me that she was simply pretending to be a man.
In terms of physical stature Sheik is most likely a male but the entity who is the warrior known as Sheik cannot be a women. The point of the disguise is to frolic around as a man so that would mean that the concept of whom Sheik is, is that of a man. Sheik is an alter ego of a whole new identity meant to serve the purpose of disguising the hidden princess as a man.

Physicality means nothing in this case. It is a matter of identity. Sheik never said he was a woman, but was always referred to as a man. That would mean that Sheik is male within the body of a woman. For starters what if you switched bodies with a women would that change you into a woman? No, you're thought patterns and choice of lifestyles are the same as they were, you are a man. Because Sheik is not meant to be Zelda that would mean that Sheik in concept is a man.
 

February Eve

ZD District Attorney
Joined
Mar 21, 2010
Location
USA
If I were to change into a man and wanted to be known as one, the first thing I'd do is wear some kind of top that proved I didn't have the physical attributes of a woman (a vest, deep v-neck, etc). Sheik's costume looks like it's hiding something and is also something that would lend itself easily to padding to make herself look more muscular.

Also, if I were royalty trying to hide myself and had the ability to change myself into a man, my first choice wouldn't be to pick a mysterious race with few survivors that my nursemaid just happened to be a member of - which would make me stand out - unless I didn't have enough power to do much else. It's kind of funny to think of Princess Zelda taking on the guise of the man at the fishing hole, but that's exactly what I'd do if I had the ability to transform - pick someone who blended in. Instead, I think she had to pick that race because little was known about them and so no one would be able to tell if she didn't fit the mold exactly. It's also telling that her appearance is so similar to Impa's - as far as I'm aware we don't necessarily know what the traditional dress/appearance of a male Sheikah is because we're never met one apart from Sheik, who has exceptional circumstances.

There is an interesting debate that can be said about identity apart from gender, etc. But that doesn't change the fact that Sheik being identified as male would reinforce gender stereotypes, while her being female would help to break them. Considering this is the first game that had more involvement from the princess than "needs rescuing", I'd much prefer to go with the latter option.

Btw, Shadsie, nice link!
 

Shadsie

Sage of Tales
There is an interesting debate that can be said about identity apart from gender, etc. But that doesn't change the fact that Sheik being identified as male would reinforce gender stereotypes, while her being female would help to break them. Considering this is the first game that had more involvement from the princess than "needs rescuing", I'd much prefer to go with the latter option.

Btw, Shadsie, nice link!
Yeah, I found it really interesting that Charley Parkhurst (?... the last one, grizzled cowboy) was apparently "generously endowed." I also find it interesting that the majority of the list is women who posed as men to fit into "male circles" before gender equality was the politically correct thing. It happens elsewhere in fiction, too.... Remember Lord of the Rings? Eowyn? I'm beginning to think that Sheik is Nintendo's answer to Eowyn. Or maybe to Ranma 1/2.

What you said is pretty much why I *personally* prefer female-Sheik. As I said on my first post on this thread, I've seen people get sexist around the issue and it irked me. Then again, the only time I recall ever writing a permanant fan fiction dealing directly with Sheik, it was my new-era/new AU Hyrule thing, "The Great Desert" in which the Zelda was an original/new Zelda and she just didn't even bother with making her disguise a gender-switch. I described this "OC Sheik" in that story as looking androgynous and getting rather angry when people just assumed she was a man. -- Then again, this was a new Zelda/new Sheik, *not* the same as the Ocarina of Time incarnations. The story-situation was very different, too. She didn't have to work under Ganondorf's nose, she was fully aware of herself as "Zelda" the whole time - the Sheikah thing was *just* a disquise, and she knew she wasn't fooling Navi (who was around for the story, immortal little fairy...)

As for the actual Ocarina of Time Sheik, who knows? I personally prefer to think "female," but have no problem with other folks thinking differently, as long as I'm not pressed upon or looked down for my view. I really think Sheik is more of a disguise and an alternate persona - something that a spy might take on - rather than a full-body gender switch, although Sheik might be a whole other personality (as evidenced by the manga), something that Zelda allowed to "take over" for a while in order to protect her. I still think there was something of "Zelda" there, aware of what was going on because in the manga, she says she was glad to share Link's adventure with him. Maybe it's like an actor who takes upon a role and becomes so into their role, they really feel for a while that they are their character. As a writer, sometimes I feel like the characters I create are pieces of me... and I write for male personas that, while a part of me, don't make me a male.

Then again, people who are transgender/transexual (oh, I hope I'm getting the terms right! People come down upon you like the wrath of Hades if you slip up on that, even innocently)... will say that they feel "male" even though they have female bodies or "female" though they have male bodies. Oh, and there are cultures which will sometimes raise a little boy into the female cultural role and they're considered intersexed and "more female" due to personality/cultural norms.

So, it's tricky, there are many shades to consider. Sheik can be just about anything, when you think about it.

I'd say "Why change the gender when just changing clothes and eyes makes the most sense?" *Is* a compelling argument, but it's also easy to shoot back "Since when has anything in Nintendo made sense?"

In short, I tend to think "Sheik = more than meets the eye/female under the cowl" but won't poo-poo those who think differently just because I think, until Nintendo says something, there's no *definitive* answer.
 

February Eve

ZD District Attorney
Joined
Mar 21, 2010
Location
USA
I actually like girls disguised as boys (or vice versa, though I'd say it happens less often in fiction.) Any kind of hidden or switched identity hits a trope I like. I would just personally be disappointed in Zelda's characterization in that game if Sheik is not a girl. Her arc would go something like, "Get ignored while I'm a young girl. Turn myself into a boy for seven years. Get kidnapped the instant I turn back into a woman." *anime sweatdrop*

Now oddly enough, if it were to illustrate soulmates knowing no boundries, I would love the idea. I read a great fic in a different fandom where the main character, a girl, was changed into a boy, and wasn't changed back until her boyfriend realized that she was the one for him, regardless of gender. It would also provide a great opportunity to explore the issue of identity for both parties.

I'd say "Why change the gender when just changing clothes and eyes makes the most sense?" *Is* a compelling argument, but it's also easy to shoot back "Since when has anything in Nintendo made sense?"
Then there's always this, lol. I tend to save it as a last resort, because it's fun to analyze and also because as someone who sometimes writes, I'd like my stories to have as few plot holes as possible and assume most other creators do as well. But sometimes you do just have to fall back on this explanation. *g*

ETA: Something else I just thought about and figured I may as well add on to this post - medium makes a big difference for me as well. OoT, the way its storyline plays out right now, isn't able to explore the issue of identity to give it proper depth. All we would see is my above summary of Zelda being ignored then kidnapped as female, while getting to shape her destiny as a male.

On the other hand, in a different form - writing, or something visual where identity is a big part of the plot - I wouldn't mind it quite as much, because there's a lot more room to analyze it and explore the implications. Imo it's not something that can be just touched upon, though, or it runs a real risk of being a cliche instead of a twist.
 
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Shadsie

Sage of Tales
I just remembered ...

In my last fandom, there was a crossdresser character. In the Trigun Maximum manga, one of the bad guys is a man who dresses as female and similiar debate issues came up in the fandom. However, I seem to recall that while the character was called "transexual" by other cast members, I don't think he billed himself as anything other than a man who liked to wear skirts. (Not so much a gender identity thing as just liking to crossdress). Then again, seeing as said character was a mass murderer who enjoyed brutally killing people with giant nails, when the good guys called referred to him as male and called him "he," I don't think they really cared about respecting any gender identity issues if there really were any.
 

The Nahobino

Nahobino
Joined
Aug 18, 2009
Location
My Fantasy World
Gender
Entity
I have no idea what game this character Sheik appears in, but I have to agree with Xinny on this one. It's Sheik who I am using as an avy, so I'll go with Sheik being a female. :P

--Edit--Whoops, I meant I am using Sheik as my profile pic now, had to relegate her down since I have two sweet Pokelovers as my avy. ^^
 

▲ToonLink▲

Guest
Well obviously she's a girl because it is ZELDA in disguise!
 
N

NiaSoPurdy

Guest
Well obviously she's a girl because it is ZELDA in disguise!
i agree with this lol

while i can see how sheik is considered male (because it's zelda in a MALE guise)....but when people insist on debating that sheik is male, saying she became male with magic, which i personally think is a bit far reaching (no offense to those who think this way) lol...but sometimes it feels like a slap in the face for women lol

it's sort of like a "there is no way sheik can be a girl/sheik is too awesome to be a girl" kind of thing...sort of like when people (my boyfriend) say that samus in SSBB is a guy because she's wearing full armor and shoots lasers...it really grinds my gears!

i hope what i wrote make sense to you guys lol
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2009
This is going to become a very messy thread if this is to continue. However I shall participate against my better judgement and post my thoughts.

Zelda and Sheik are both different egos, though Zelda is indeed a female that does not change the situation of Sheik being a different ego. By definition an alter ego is an entirely different persona oblivious to the actions made by the other self. Now a more distinct meaning for alter ego can be found in literary analysis, wherein it describes characters in different works who are psychologically similar.

Zelda is the princess of Hyrule, while Sheik is a Sheikah. Both of them are entirely different entities that attempt to reach a common goal. Zelda is locked inside Sheik who acts as her vessel for seven years through the disguise of a boy.

One other thing i'd like to bring it up is the "now" canonized Zelda manga which raises the issue once more:



Now we could take from this chapter that the entity of Sheik is in fact male but the subconcious controlling it's actions are still female. So I would say... Sheik is an it.
I agree with your agrument, except for the fact that I think that the being that we discuss, Sheik, is the one whom we speak of. Not Zelda. So technically, Sheik is a male puppet. It's kind of like a magical transexual operation, except instantaneous and not quite as grotesque.
 

Zeruda

Mother Hyrule
Joined
May 17, 2009
Location
on a crumbling throne
Well obviously she's a girl because it is ZELDA in disguise!
No offense, because I'm in no way attacking your personal character, but this sort of response has driven me up the wall for the past (almost)12 years.


There are two very separate parts to the argument: the first being the physical gender of Sheik, and the second being the mental gender and portrayal of Sheik.

[] P H Y S I C A L []
This is the first thing that most people argue about when it comes to Sheik. Some people believe Zelda simply dressed as a male while some believe Zelda took on a male transformation. I'm going to address both:

&& DRESSED AS A MAN
It's a very common thing in both real life and fiction that women would dress as men and vice versa. James Gray, Marinus, and Billy Tipton are only a few of these women. Cross-dressing is also pretty popular in Japanese/Korean(and now more often Chinese) pop culture, seen a lot in manga and even in music. Characters and people in real life who did they usually are small breasted and/or breast-bind as well as "pack". Zelda is a fairytale, so it's not surprising they used this method of hiding an identity.

However, when women did this, they were not dressing in form-fitting clothing as Sheik did. They were dressing in overalls, pants, baggy shirts, robes, etc. etc. They dressed in clothing that could easily conceal any feminine bumps and curves. However, there are bindings in plain sight around Sheik's upper body.

It's also said that Sheik's eyes were originally going to stay blue, but I've never seen any interview or quote about this, so I have no idea if it's true or not. It's possible that Zelda simply muffled her voice and stuffed all her hair up into that turbin thing. And, then there's the question- if Princess Zelda could change into a man, why bother hiding her face? Who'd recognize her?

&& TRANSFORMED INTO A MAN
This is also another popular idea when it comes to the Sheik gender debate. While simply dressing in male's clothing is a popular way of disguising one's self, actually transforming into the opposite gender is more popular when it comes to fiction (manga, anime, magic, etc.). Pardon me for getting a little graphic, but I think this is okay to talk about: breasts can be bound, yes. Some women are flat-chested. Princess Zelda has always been an A cup (in US sizes) save for the more recent TP in which she was more like a small B Cup. She'd have no problem binding her breasts. However, the major flaw with this arguement is that Sheik is not shaped like the common, slim "shounen" character- he is trim, but he is muscular. No matter how skillfully a person binds their breasts, they will not achieve the look of masculine pectoral muscles. Sheik has pecs. Even women who do great workout routines will not get this look. It is something that Princess Zelda could not have achieved with a female body and breast-binding.

Not only does Sheik have pecs, but his entire physique is entirely masculine in shape. By the time Sheik is helping Link out, Zelda is Link's age. Why is it that Princess Zelda has curves and Sheik does not? The official art for both characters are drawn at the same angle, and the body types are completely different from each other. Sheik is trim and muscular. Yes, women gain muscle too, but not the same way men do. A muscular man will look very different from a muscular woman. Sheik's eye color is also different, as is his skin color and shade of blonde hair color. His entire appearance is different from that of Princess Zelda's. The masculine musclulature comes and goes in an instant. Sheik "transforms" in a flash of light rather than pulling down his mask.

I'd also bring up the manga. No, not every manga is canon. However, it's been stated by Aonuma himself that the manga is a way to make changes to the story. Akira Himekawa drew it out. So guess who thought up the little stories? Yes, it's Aonuma's own idea that Princess Zelda "would become a boy." Impa seals Zelda's consciousness away. But even then, it doesn't delve into the physical. Perhaps Sheik, in the manga, is female and just doesn't know it. Strangers things happen in manga/anime, but I doubt it in this case.


[] I D E N T I T Y []
Regardless of Sheik's physical gender being male or female, the fact stand that the disguise Princess Zelda took is one of a man. He fools Link, Ruto, everybody. Regardless of what is beneath the clothing, the identity of Sheik has a male gender. This was Princess Zelda's intention, and so the character she "became", whether it was by magic or simply crossdressing, is a man.

That means that even though Sheik is Princess Zelda who is a woman, Sheik the character is still male, because she chose to become a man. But Sheik, while a male character, is a a woman in the end.



Really, Sheik isn't Princess Zelda. Princess Zelda chooses to be Sheik, even if only for a couple years. There's something to think about ;)





CONCLUSION: That's up to you. My own personal conclusion is that, physically, Sheik is a man regardless of being Princess Zelda. Many will disagree, and that's fine. This is a debate that will never come to an end, so I only hope that my wall of text helped anybody who was willing to read through it in its entirety.
 

Shadsie

Sage of Tales
I do have a confession to make:

I've said that both arguments for Sheik are valid - and I do believe that. I don't think it's a debate that will end, and, in the end, I think Sheik can be what you want him/her to be. I do think that both sides (and many shades in between) have solid arguments.

The main reason why I'm a "female-preferrer" is due to gender role issues (I really like imaging the *princess* in action, Zelda as tomboy without actually having to switch to full-boy).

But another reason why is... I don't like yaoi. I've never been a huge fan of Sheik and it's for the same reason why I'm probalby not the biggest fan of Dark Link: I see fans taking characters with *wonderful* philosophical and psychological implications, immediately paring them off with Link (or some cases others) and making it "all about the smex."

Now, before you label me a "homophobe," let it be known that I'm a big supporter of civil rights and that I *actually used to write some yaoi fan fiction for my last fandom.* That is, characters I thought it workable for (and in one case, a crack-drabble between characters it wouldn't have worked for, for laughs). It wasn't a big interest of mine to begin with, but I got turned off it pretty well completely by overzealous fans who condescended to those who didn't think it was canon or who acted like yaoi was their whole lives.

To tell the truth, I'm also kind of turned off by some het stuff with male Sheik, ie. "We make him a seperate character with his own body, then pair him up with Zelda."

It's just something about the pairing implications that make me shudder.

Now, if you show me a really well-written fanfic that explores "Zelda-becomes-Sheik annd is confronted with new gender issues and inner conflict" *apart* from it being a sudden smex urge to try out new body parts on Link - you know, a really good serious fanfic about inner turmoil, maybe I'll change my mind on my dislike for ManSheik.
 

SheikahWarrior

Randomus Pervertus
Joined
May 13, 2010
Location
Brittland
I do have a confession to make:

I've said that both arguments for Sheik are valid - and I do believe that. I don't think it's a debate that will end, and, in the end, I think Sheik can be what you want him/her to be. I do think that both sides (and many shades in between) have solid arguments.

The main reason why I'm a "female-preferrer" is due to gender role issues (I really like imaging the *princess* in action, Zelda as tomboy without actually having to switch to full-boy).

But another reason why is... I don't like yaoi. I've never been a huge fan of Sheik and it's for the same reason why I'm probalby not the biggest fan of Dark Link: I see fans taking characters with *wonderful* philosophical and psychological implications, immediately paring them off with Link (or some cases others) and making it "all about the smex."

Now, before you label me a "homophobe," let it be known that I'm a big supporter of civil rights and that I *actually used to write some yaoi fan fiction for my last fandom.* That is, characters I thought it workable for (and in one case, a crack-drabble between characters it wouldn't have worked for, for laughs). It wasn't a big interest of mine to begin with, but I got turned off it pretty well completely by overzealous fans who condescended to those who didn't think it was canon or who acted like yaoi was their whole lives.

To tell the truth, I'm also kind of turned off by some het stuff with male Sheik, ie. "We make him a seperate character with his own body, then pair him up with Zelda."

It's just something about the pairing implications that make me shudder.

Now, if you show me a really well-written fanfic that explores "Zelda-becomes-Sheik annd is confronted with new gender issues and inner conflict" *apart* from it being a sudden smex urge to try out new body parts on Link - you know, a really good serious fanfic about inner turmoil, maybe I'll change my mind on my dislike for ManSheik.
yeah... im not the biggest fan of yaoi either. i once read a LinkxDark Link fanfic. NEVER AGAIN. and im not a homophobe either, in fact some of the nicest people i have ever met are gay, but i still have no problems with the idea of Sheik being male, and the fanfic you are talking about at the end, the weird thig is i am writing one like that right now but i wont be putting it on here until its finished.
 

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